My Landscape

Kruf, J.P. (2005). My Landscape. Scotland.

My Landscape, taken in 2005 in Scotland on the road with my girls, is full of mental layers and personal reflections of that time. The colour palette is natural with the brown fields, the grey clouds, the misty mountains on the far horizon and the small boat with a man on the lake. It still feels like a painting inspired by the philosophy of landscape.


Kruf, J.P. (2015). Camouflage. Verona.

Komt veel voor. Niet alleen in de natuur, maar ook in de samenleving. Wikipedia formuleert het helder. Quote: “Camouflage of verhulling is het zodanig toepassen van kleur, tekening en vorm dat een normalerwijs zichtbaar object tegen zijn achtergrond verdwijnt of moeilijker wordt herkend. Er is bij camouflage dus sprake van gezichtsbedrog.”

Het wordt alom toegepast door onszelf, bedrijven, politici, media. Het is een techniek die het mogelijk maakt vaak de wat lastige zaken aan het oog van anderen te onttrekken. Dit voorbeeld in de binnenstad van Verona is in al haar onschuldigheid en oprechtheid een aandoenlijke poging van camouflage met kleur. Een pareltje.

The word ‘controversial’

Kruf, J.P. (2019). Deep dive. Dubai Mall.

What do we do as Judge Amy Coney Barrett pointed climate change as controversial. This  happened during the hearings last week in Court. Eyebrows worldwide raised, alarm bells did go off. What we learn here, I’m afraid that the Trias Politica, the separation of powers – a golden rule within public governance  and democracy – is at stake. Source is the New York Times By Calling Climate Change ‘Controversial,’ Barrett Created Controversy.

From the perspective of all those threatened and dying species and damaged or lost ecosystems this was a bad moment and for worse they – like many humans – are expected to have a bad time with appointments like this. Trust in government, trust in politics, trust in judges is at the brink of dying out.

In my view we should not continue along this path of appointing people who deny what is going on and do not really listen to the facts. Especially when de DNA genes of the judiciary will be highly influenced by personal doubts, beliefs and conservatism. It is irresponsible, it is immoral, it is non-ethical to appoint people on crucial public functions from the perspective of short term political and assumed personal gain. True democracy is at stake. It feels like a too deep dive. Risky. Too risky. Stop!

The wise lessons from Baobab

Kruf, J.P. (2003). Baobab Tree. Damaraland, Namibia.

Being smart is best related to surviving, being the fittest. It comes with true skills and a lot of the right DNA or talent, or agility, or power to change. Is it just luck that you can survive? So much depends on the state of the environment, and of yourself. Following the rules of every natural ecosystem.

This tree is here. It is the only one in the vast and stretched desert landscape of Damaraland, Namibia. Why? Not that much water available. The Baobab tree (Adansonia digitata L.) knows how to tackle this. It has learned in the millions of years to store the right amount of water, gathered on the right moments and in the right quantities to survive. Well here it is. The resilient tree. Resilient to draught. When there is not that much of water, it is wise to do so, store it in yourself. Very wise. In fact the only way.

What about you in this world? Are you smart, strong, fit or resilient? Learn these lessons. Amend your properties to that what the environment demands from you, not the other way around. It is about deep lessons from Darwin. Reread him. Just fit. Learn from the Baobab. Take your time, of course, but prepare yourself as soon as possible. It is the lessons of all life on earth. The world is changing. Be the fittest! Store what you need to be resilient.

Re-engineering public governance

Kruf, J.P. (2006). Sunset in the Amazon. Brazil.

The article in The New York Times today, The World’s Largest Tropical Wetland Has Become an Inferno, caught my attention. What to say? What to do? This year, roughly a quarter of the vast Pantanal wetland in Brazil, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, has burned in wildfires worsened by climate change. What happens to a rich and unique biome when so much is destroyed? As forest ecologist (and human) it cuts through the heart that so much species and biodiversity did get lost.

It is very inconvenient to feel more or less complete powerless to protect. A personal role as a steward is hard to be found. It puzzles me, this immense loss. More so, what I can do? Who has thoughts on this? Or is democracy the process that values the largest stakeholders. Is it just that? If so the romantic idea of a ‘justice by democracy’ has gone. It was a dream scenario. We need to re-engineer our public governance, so it seems. And quickly so.

State of the World’s Plants and Fungi

Kruf, J.P. (2019). Klaproos. Halsteren.

Het 2020 rapport State of the World’s Plants and Fungi door Royal Botanic Gardens Kew is adembenemend om te lezen. Zelfs een ecoloog als ik ervaar bij het lezen de huidige rijkdom van moeder Aarde en voel hoe de natuur zich in al haar diversiteit en rijkdom heeft ontwikkeld. Het rapport neemt je mee.

Dit gerenommeerd instituut komt in coördinatie met 97 andere instellingen in 42 landen tot de ontluisterende conclusie hoe snel en ingrijpend de neergang van de biodiversiteit gaat. Data zijn samengebracht. Er ontstaat informatie.

Tegelijkertijd zijn er in het rapport veel handvatten om te verbeteren en te stutten. Er zijn ook talrijke aanwijzingen wat wij nog kunnen leren van deze twee Koninkrijken, die van de planten en die van de schimmels. Wat dat zijn het, taxonomisch formeel, letterlijk, en zeker ook figuurlijk, symbolisch. Wij wonen niet in die Koninkrijken, de mens is gast, dus even dimmen zou wijs en respectvol zijn.

Een lezenswaardig rapport, niet alleen voor liefhebbers en professionals op het vakgebied, maar eigenlijk voor eenieder die van het leven houdt. Er is immers die berekening van het risico op uitsterven. 40% van de plantensoorten wordt met uitsterven bedreigd. Ondenkbaar eigenlijk, hoe de mens huishoudt en als een olifant door de porseleinkast dendert.  Een must read voor elke publieke leider. Het is daarmee ook voer voor presidenten. Jawel.

Fifty shades of green

Kruf, J.P. (2005). Fifty shades of green. Scotland.

Following the present political debates, the most attention – by far – goes to Covid-19. I can understand that, although to a certain level. What seems more dominant in the long run – in terms of challenges and finding proper strategies – are the transition towards green and sustainable energy as well as the redesign of our economy according circular principles.

More focus on stewardship, on building resilience, could be wise. The prospect of ending up in a permanent state of crisis management is not that convenient. Not for citizens, not for ecosystems, not for society, not for governors and even not for politicians.

I think the idea of green is the selling point, the ultimate metaphor of today. Or maybe better the fifty shades of green. Rebuilding our cities in a renaissance of green elements, forests and parks is a pleasant thought, encouraging and lifting our hearts and souls. This picture, taken on a journey through Scotland with my three daughters Renée, Michelle and Louise, says it all. It is an iconic landscape.

The Quietness of the Street

Kruf, J.P. (2018). Quietness Palette. Cadíz.

Every city has its places, where the quietness of the street opens the story. Here you almost can hear the whispering of those who lived here centuries ago and the breath of an empire. This colourful and straight palette is fully packed with information and reminds us of the rich history of one of the oldest cities in Europe, Cadíz. Sherlock knows that this city was and is strictly managed in many ways. You can feel it. It is a form of art, that of city management. A beauty.

New Insights

Kruf, J.P. (2015) New Insights

During and directly after a crisis, one may come with new insights. Change can come from the interior need for a new organisation and maybe a more practical approach. Or it can come from an exterior perspective to have a better view on the outside world. In the old town of Lucca, Italy, we walked along this piece of art.

Anno 2020, after and during the Covid-19, the need for change is obvious, in public, civic and business organisations. This is driven by internal incentives, related to:

• Business continuity (for all products and services to citizen and clients).

• Human resource management (towards a more vital, agile and flexible organisation, new roles or functions are needed).

• Finance (finding new resilience and balance, tax and budget rescheduling, control priorities).

• Information management (secure the new cyber world with home and on distance protocols).

• Procurement (recheck suppliers and contracts in effectivity and continuity).

• Cooperation (the need for co-creation and for new value-driven alliances).

• Strategy and policy (from ‘be better prepared’, ex-post and risk approach towards a more ex-ante, resilience, value and scenario-driven way of thinking and acting).

• Leadership and the C-suite (from delegation and top-down styles to true ownership of value and risk approaches, stewardship and serving styles focused on delivery).

• Interface politics, elected council, governing council and management (from segmentation and fragmentation towards a more holistic approach of matters concerning citizens, groups and social issues).

Lucca has this beautiful house where new insights, reorientation and rebuilding actually meet perfectly. It is a metaphor for resilience management. The house of public governance is expected to follow the owners of this house.

The Ferris Wheel of Governance

Kruf, J.P. (2019) Ferris Wheel. Dubai.

The Ferris wheel of governance is indicating that we migrate at a swift pace from the crisis management modus to ‘normal’ management and governance. Democracy re-installs itself after months of Covid-19 crisis management. Old patterns return. The flow and the collective belief vanishes rapidly and the communal obedience of the people is replaced by daily traffic between opposition leaders, governors and citizens.

With one single blow Racism has replaced Corona. I thought. But not quite so though. In the debate today between the mayor of Amsterdam and the elected council – about the fact that she did not enforce the 1.5 meter in an anti-racism demonstration – shows that the wheel is turning. Who is right? I cannot say, but the fact that both worlds meet and spend hours and hours to battle each other with arguments is enough proof for this dilemma. We’re back again where we were before, for sure. The turning of the ferris wheel shows us again the old dilemma’s we are facing and segmentation in politics. At the same time it is about the balancing act of democracy.

On this quiet evening at home, I remembered – as a contrast with the harsh debate this afternoon in Amsterdam (live on television) – the words It’s cloud’s illusions I recall… of  Joni Mitchell in her song Both sides now (1968). I remember the peaceful time we had last months, not always easy but with elements of quietness and easy news. Joni:

Moons and Junes and ferries wheels
The dizzy dancing way that you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way

We’re back.

Rainy Day Perspective

Kruf J.P. (2019) Rainy Day Perspective.

Today was a rainy day, finally. I look out my window and see the city lights in the far distance, through the palette of raindrops, while reading some articles about the latest financial developments due to Covid-19. Well, an interesting view on the threshold of the near future, of tomorrow.

The predictions, to be frank, are worrisome for the coming years and more difficult after 2 years from now. I know the government can print new money very easily or borrow it relatively cheaply. It can spend budgets on all individuals, communities, civic organisations and companies which are in (desperate) need of support. We know all these spendings at the end will have to be refunded and paid back by citizens, companies and lower governments like municipalities. It is unavoidable to find new balance again. The awareness under public leaders, city managers, CFO’s and concern controllers is growing – “Houston, we have a problem” –, because cash registers are deflating rapidly.

Where a romantic late evening view with a good glass of wine can cross the thoughts on a new financial strategy for local government and the city. Same picture, two perspectives: that of home sweet home and the other one of the need for a sparkling and financial solid public strategy. A reflective mood.

Janus and the art of navigation

Kruf, J.P. (2015) The God Janus.

When it comes to navigation in times of high dynamics and change, it was pilot John Boyd who developed a revolutionary and simple concept, the OODA loop: observe, orient, decide and act. The first steps are crucial, he said, when you fly with a speed of 900 km/h, upside down and 100 meter above a mountainous landscape. Is this not the situation where we as society are in today? After Boyd many scientists, experts and advisers developed a myriad of concepts, frameworks and approaches to tackle change and to find navigation in a volatile world.

The Romans already had a god for transitions, gates, passages and doorways. They called him Janus, derived form iānus, meaning in Latin ‘arched passage, doorway’. Can we say that we find ourselves in a doorway, a gate? And can we say we need to find our path, i.e. through developing a circular economy, caring for digital transformation, implementing energy transition, innovating water management, tackling a first grade health crisis, dealing with inequality, racism and poverty? Yes, we can. We are in a doorway, maybe on a threshold towards a new world. Janus is our ‘man’, our god. We need to give him more thought in our souls, not worship him, and ask him advice in the steps to come.

I think I timed the moment (exactly 10 years after my father died) and find the right angle of sunlight, beaming (was it actually him?) through this work of art at our home. Janus looking forward, Janus looking backward and in reflection its metaperspective. The art of navigation is alike. Observe by looking forward and backward, and orient where you are by reflecting on this, decide and act.

Janus and the art of navigation. Janus is presiding over all beginnings and transitions. Should we ask him for his wisdom again? And if we do, let’s not forget John.